The internet is full with podcasts. Here is a list of podcasts that I recommend. They mostly come from politics, tech, society and science and almost all of them are rather information-heavy. If you enjoy thinking critically about complex and interesting questions, those podcasts are for you.
Malcolm Gladwell revisits things in the past that have been overlooked and misunderstood. From questions like “How did the friendship between Frederick Lindemann and Winston Churchill lead to so many of the British atrocities in WWII” to the economics of Basektball, the podcasts presents a variety of fascinating topics. Often one starts out by thinking “huh, this is not that interesting” and ends up by being absolutely fascinated by the details Gladwell discovers. Many of my friends consider the episodes of season 1 and 2 as some of the best out there. Unfortunately, season 3 and especially season 4 lack the genius of the first two seasons, but they are still well worth a listen.
The 80000hours podcast is produced by 80000hours.org and interviews quite impressive guests about the world’s most pressing questions and how to solve them. Not only do they discuss and debate current and future developments of societies and the ethics involved. They also give listeners concrete ideas and helpful instructions on how they can actually work towards a career that has a large positive impact.
The SlateStarCodex Podcast
Scott Alexander’s SlateStarCodex has become quite an instution in the rationalist and Effective Altruism community. Scott, a psychiatrist living in the Bay Area, posts about a vast variety of topics. This includes psychopharmacology (e.g. Why psychedelics might be used in therapy) as well as for example a post about why there is apparently so little effort to buy politics. The posts are generelly very interesting and very carefully researched. Now they are available as a podcast. People tell me they need quite a while to get accustomed to the voice, but I still think this podcast is pure gold.
Against The Rules – Michael Lewis
Sn unfortunately very short (6 episodes) podcast about the role of the referee in society. It examines situations from sports to economics and law that focus on fairness and the role that different types of referees play in it. I very much enjoyed it!
Conversations with Tyler
Every week Tyler Cowen interviews fascinating people – and he does so extremely well. Very fascinating and engaging conversations you may well enjoy.
Future of Life – the Future of Life Institute Podcast
Another Effective Altruist Podcast. The FLI Podcast invites guests and interviews them about issues that have the potential to shape the future of human life on this planet.
Every week Russel Roberts interviews economists about their work. The interviews are really good and offer an interesting insight into economic research.
BBC – The Inquiry
Every week The Inquiry presents 4 witnesses / experts and use their testimony to present answers to current questions and debates in society, science politics etc. One of my favorite episodes is “Can a Corrupt Country Come Clean” about the fight against corruption in Georgia. But they have many more and especially the older ones are really really good.
BBC – The Analysis
quite similar to BBC – The Inquiry. Sometimes better, sometimes a bit more technical and less entertaining.
More Perfect – Radiolab
More Perfect tells the history behind important US Supreme Court decisions. Very fascinating (especially also for those who are not in law school).
A reporter follows the Islamic State. Highly recommended!
Our Man in the Middle East
Jeremy Bowen recapitulates several decades of reporting in the Middle East – and with it much of the history of the Middle East conflic. Very interesting series.
Quite entertaining podcast that looks at a large variety of topics from an economics perspective. My favorite: the episode that explains why it is cheaper to order a mug from China than to send it across the street in the United States.
50 Things that made the modern economy – Tim Harford
Tim Harford looks at 50 developments that have changed and shaped the modern economy quite dramatically. Entertaining and quite interesting.
The Happiness Lab
Yale Psychology professor Laurie Santos talks about the science of happiness and how to lead a happy life. While not everything was novel to me, she presented some quite interesting ideas that may help to lead a happier life.
Stephen Dubner looks at the world from an econ perspective. Maybe a bit less entertaining than Planet Money, but usually more in-depth. One example is the episode where they discuss whether patients should be allowed to choose between money instead of the medical treatment they are entitled to when they ill.